We finally got to sit down and play the second chapter of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: Season Two, “A House Divided.” Warning: sone small spoilers ahead.
Picking up where “All That Remains” left off, Clementine and whomever’s side you went to in the previous episode (Pete or Nick) are trapped in a refuge near the stream. As you may recall, Pete got bitten. If you went to save him, Clem and Pete are holed up in an abandoned delivery truck, which is surrounded by a large group of walkers. Kind, old Pete becomes one of those characters you truly feel for as you watch him die. We don’t usually hear first hand what it feels like to be taken by the fever that’ll eventually kill you and turn you into a Walker. So when Pete starts to describe it, one can’t help but make the same face Clementine does: pure fear and empathy. It’s a melancholy scene to be sure.
If you chose Nick’s side, you’re trapped in a small distillery filled with whiskey. He’s torn up and angry about the loss of Pete, eventually getting drunk off his ass with the whiskey that was left behind. There’s some meaningful characterization in this scene for Nick, but mostly Clem takes the time to either set him straight or get on his good side so he doesn’t become totally useless when you try to escape.
When Clem and Pete/Nick finally realize that their group won’t be able to find them, it’s time to take matters into their own hands and get back themselves. Only…no matter which option you choose, it’s always Clem who manages to make it back.
Carlos, Sarah, and Rebecca are the only ones in the cabin while the rest are out looking for Clem, Pete, and Nick. After hearing what happened at the stream, Carlos and Rebecca leave the two girls alone to fetch the others. What happens right after is where the tension of the game starts to really build up. In Season One, there wasn’t a definite villain to worry about. At least, not one that you knew of right away. But this is about a year after the events of the previous season, and dirtbag hunters and scavengers are just about as regular as the Walkers. Now there are dangerous group leaders with serious gun power to worry about.
This season’s villain is a man named Carver, whose mere mentioning seems to fill everyone with dread. When he finally makes an appearance, you can’t help but whisper “Oh s**t” to yourself.
After some searching around, and a few carefully chosen lines from Clem, Carver leaves. The girls tell the returning group what happened, and they immediately pick up their things and take off. Now that Carver has seen Clementine, the group feels they have no choice but to take her along as well. First thing’s first: find Pete/Nick on the way out.
“A House Divided” takes the opportunity to get you to care about these new characters after their dickish introduction in “All That Remains.” Even Rebecca, the pregnant lady who was so eager to cast you out, even showed her softer side. Guess we can blame her bad attitude on the pregnancy after all.
The character we start to like even more is Luke, who starts picking Clem as his number two. Despite that, however, you as the player can’t shake the feeling that there could be something…interesting about Luke we’ve not yet explored. You start to get the impression that Luke is responsible for convincing everyone to escape Carver’s camp, that he’s actually the leader and not Carlos (though, it could be a shared leadership between the two). Carver also mentions that he told them all not to follow Luke, that he’d “turn tail at the first sign of trouble.” There’s plenty that we still don’t know about concerning all the members of the group, but Luke seems to stand out the most.
“A House Divided” accomplishes a steady balance of conversation with action. In fact, the real danger doesn’t occur until the last half hour of the episode. All the tension that builds up until that point comes boiling to a head and just explodes into a series of unfortunate events. As we said before, Carver’s looming presence in the game adds a clear reminder to the game’s characters, and to us, that Walkers aren’t the only dangers they need worry about in this horrific world.
We found ourselves replaying this episode three times to watch different outcomes unfold. Indeed, there are quite a few instances in the game that open up to completely new scenes and conversations that you never would have discovered if you continued forward another way. The Pete and Nick scenario was the first clear sign of this. What this episode does best overall is make you feel the weight of your actions. It makes you second guess yourself, and it makes you wonder if there was something else you could have done to get a result that’s a little less painful.
"A House Divided" gives just the right amount of characterization and tension for a second episode, out of five. It introduces an even more dangerous element than zombies, and it accomplishes toying with a player's conflicted emotions over certain choices.